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Georgia, US Will Likely Sign Strategic Agreement January 4

Georgia's foreign minister says he is almost certain his country will sign a strategic partnership agreement with the United States on January 4.

Grigol Vashadze Thursday said he is 99 percent sure he will be flying with a delegation in early 2009 to Washington to sign the document, which is still being finalized.

The U.S. State Department Tuesday said the "bilateral charter" under discussion is similar to one the U.S. signed last week with Ukraine. A spokesman said the agreement will enhance cooperation in the areas of security, democracy and economic reforms.

But the agreement could further raise tensions between the U.S. and Russia. In a televised address Wednesday night, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev voiced strong opposition to NATO overtures and possible alliance membership for both Ukraine and Georgia.

NATO ministers agreed earlier this month to boost ties with both countries. However, they stopped short of granting either country status as official candidates for membership.

Russia invaded Georgia in August when Georgia tried to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia by force. Russia says it was protecting its citizens in South Ossetia.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.